Quentin Snider

Raven Lee, Damion Lee
Associated Press

No. 22 Louisville cruises past Eastern Michigan 86-53

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Damion Lee scored 16 points, all in the second half, and No. 22 Louisville shot 53 percent from the field to overwhelm Eastern Michigan 86-53 on Saturday.

Louisville (7-1) torched another opponent in shooting better than 50 percent for the seventh time in eight games this season. The Cardinals entered the game leading the country in scoring margin at more than 30 points a game.

Quentin Snider scored 13 points, Chinanu Onuaku had 12 and Ray Spalding and Trey Lewis added 11 each for Louisville. The Cardinals had 20 assists on 31 field goals.

Raven Lee led Eastern Michigan (6-4) with 19 points. Freshman James Thompson IV had 12 points and 13 rebounds to earn his sixth straight double-double. Eastern Michigan shot 30 percent (19 of 64) from the field.

Lee, Louisville’s leading scorer at 19 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half and the Cardinals appeared hesitant to attack Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone early, relying on five 3s in the first 10 1/2 minutes to gain an early edge. Thompson’s jumper cut the Louisville lead to one before a 7-0 run in 70 seconds made it 16-8 midway through the opening half.

Spalding and Snider, both local products, filled Lee’s void as the Cardinals worked together to score. Spalding had six points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in the opening half while Snider had 10 points. Snider’s floater at the buzzer gave Louisville a 37-21 lead.

A 10-0 Louisville burst to start the second half put the game out of reach at 47-21. Lee later capped an 8-0 run with consecutive 3s that gave Louisville a 62-30 lead with 12:18 to play. Spalding and Onuaku had seven rebounds each for Louisville.

TIP-INS

Eastern Michigan: The Eagles had nine steals after entering third in the nation (11.4 per game). … The Eagles had won four of their last five games. . Louisville and Eastern Michigan both lost at now-No. 1 Michigan State.

Louisville: The Cardinals entered leading the nation in rebounding margin (18.9) and scoring margin (30.3). They are second in scoring defense with 55.7 points allowed per game. . Lewis scored 11 points to go above 1,200 for his career. The graduate transfer played his first three seasons with Penn State and Cleveland State.

UP NEXT

Eastern Michigan visits Coppin State on Dec. 21.

Louisville hosts Kennesaw State on Wednesday.

Louisville forward Deng Adel sidelined with knee injury

Deng Adel, Jason Dunne
Associated Press
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Just before Louisville’s win over North Florida Saturday afternoon, it was announced that freshman forward Deng Adel would be sidelined with a sprained knee. Adel, who suffered the injury in practice on Friday, will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury and how long he’ll have to sit out.

Following Louisville’s 89-61 win over North Florida Saturday afternoon, head coach Rick Pitino stated that he did not expect the 6-foot-8 freshman to miss much playing time.

“I think he will probably sit out the next game and hopefully be ready by Thanksgiving,” Pitino said.

Adel started each of Louisville’s first two games, playing 17 minutes per contest with averages of 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. With Adel sidelined sophomore guard Quentin Snider moved into the starting lineup Saturday, giving the Cardinals two points guards in he and grad student Trey Lewis.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Louisville dismisses senior guard from program

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One day after senior guard Chris Jones returned to the rotation in No. 12 Louisville’s win over Miami, the program announced that he has been dismissed from the program.

Jones, who came off the bench Saturday, started 24 of the 26 games he played in and led the Cardinals in assists (3.6 apg) and steals (2.0 spg). Jones also averaged 13.7 points per game, which was third on the team behind sophomore guard Terry Rozier and junior forward Montrezl Harrell.

In each of the last two games Louisville has started freshman Quentin Snider in place of Jones, and the freshman performed well in the Cardinals’ loss at Syracuse. Snider played 38 minutes in that game, accounting for 13 points, four assists and three rebounds. However he was unable to build on that performance Saturday, as he played just five minutes and failed to register a point, rebound or assist.

Without Jones more will be asked of both Snider and senior Wayne Blackshear, who continues to have issues from a consistency standpoint. Blackshear scored ten points on Saturday, and he scored 19 in a loss to NC State, but he also went scoreless in the loss at Syracuse. In a home win over Pittsburgh, Blackshear aggravated a hip pointer that has been an issue for him recently.

The other question is how Louisville accounts for the loss of Jones on the defensive end. With Jones suspended for the loss at Syracuse the Cardinals did not use their full court pressure all that often, and that impacted their aggressiveness in the half court as well. This could be the biggest concern for the Cardinals moving forward, as they look to make a run deep into March.

Louisville’s Quentin Snider, Montrezl Harrell combine for an impressive alley-oop that didn’t count (VIDEO)

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After falling at No. 2 Virginia on Saturday, No. 9 Louisville rebounded with a 69-53 home win over Pittsburgh. The star of the game for the Cardinals was junior forward Montrezl Harrell, who accounted for 28 points and 12 rebounds. And he was also part of a play that, had it counted, would’ve gone down as one of the most impressive in college basketball.

After forcing a turnover freshman guard Quentin Snider lofted a pass ahead to Harrell while falling to the floor. But instead of simply catching the ball, Harrell turned the play into an alley-oop. With the referee ruling that Snider was fouled by Pitt’s Sheldon Jeter while making the pass, the play was waved off.

But that doesn’t change the fact that both the pass and the dunk were highly impressive.

Video credit: ACC Digital Network

Top 25 Countdown: No. 10 Louisville Cardinals

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package. We continue our countdown today with No. 10 Louisville.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

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Head Coach: Rick Pitino

Last Season: 31-6, 15-3 American (t-1st), lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16

Key Losses: Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Chane Behanan, Kevin Ware

Newcomers: Quentin Snider, Shaqquan Aaron, Chinanu Onuaku, Jaylen Johnson, Matz Stockman, Anas Osama Mahmoud

Projected Lineup

G: Chris Jones, Sr.
G: Terry Rozier, So.
G: Wayne Blackshear, Sr.
F: Montrezl Harrell, Jr.
C: Mongok Mathiang, So.
Bench: Quentin Snider, Fr.; Anton Gill, So.; Shaqquan Aaron, Fr.; Chinanu Onuaku, Fr., Jaylen Johnson, Fr.; Akoy Agau, So.

They’ll be good because … : Rick Pitino should have one of the best guards and one of the best big men in the country. By now, everyone should know about Montrezl Harrell. He’s a powerful front court presence, the kind of power forward that seems to have passed the game by. There’s nothing pretty about what Harrell does on a basketball court. He’s attacks the glass, he runs the floor hard, he assaults the rim when he dunks. Everything is strength and power with him. Oh, and he may have added a jumper this season. There’s a reason he’s going to be on a lot of Preseason All-American teams.

Terry Rozier is a different story, as he’s not quite as well-known as Harrell. Rozier was originally a member of the Class of 2012, but he was forced to spend a season prepping at Hargrave Military Academy for a year before enrolling with the Cardinals. An athletic, 6-foot-2 combo-guard, Rozier is going to be the focal point of this season’s perimeter attack after what was a promising freshman season backing up Russ Smith. He’s got the ability to be a star at this level and, eventually, a lottery pick.

RELATED: Terry Rozier headlines our list of Breakout Stars

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But they might disappoint because … : Once you get past Rozier and Harrell, there is quite a bit of unknown on this Louisville roster. Two seniors find themselves in the starting lineup this season, but both have been more enigmatic than consistent during their time with the Cardinals. Wayne Blackshear seemed poised to have a breakout season after an impressive performance in the NCAA tournament as a freshman, but due to injuries and inconsistency, he’s never lived up to those expectations.

Senior point guard Chris Jones had some promising moments last season after transferring into the program as the reigning Junior College Player of the Year, but he didn’t have the kind of season that Louisville fans were hoping for. He shot the ball too much (and at just a 39.5% clip) and, for much of the year, he wasn’t the point guard that Pitino needed alongside Russ Smith.

The emergence of those two will be key, but even more important will be Louisville’s youngsters. Every other player in Louisville’s rotation will either be a freshman or a sophomore that didn’t play much. Anton Gill, Quentin Snider and Shaqquan Aaron make up the perimeter depth, while Mangok Mathiang will likely start with a slew of big bodies backing him up.

Outlook: Louisville is a tough team to read this season because so much of their roster is a question mark. We know how good Harrell is going to be, but will Rozier live up to the vaunted expectations that have been set for him? There have been rumblings that he was the best pro prospect on the roster since this time last season. Will Jones and Blackshear be able to provide the senior leadership and veteran presence on the floor that guys like Luke Hancock and Peyton Siva have in the past?

That becomes all-the-more critical when the inexperience on the rest of Louisville’s roster gets factored in. The Cardinals will have a number of options on their bench, particularly in the front court, but how many of those options are going to be ready to play in a loaded ACC this season? And that is another major question mark for the Cards. How will they adjust to playing in a new conference with new refs and new arenas and some of the nation’s best talent and coaching?

Personally, I think that depth is overrated and that it’s hard to bet against any team with two potential all-americans and Rick Pitino coaching them. But it’s not crazy to suggest that Louisville is closer to a fringe top 25 team than a top ten team.